tv Focus on Europe PBS October 8, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
>> hello, and welcome to "focus on europe." i'm michelle henery. higher, further, faster -- the hunt for the ultimate adrenaline rush is driving more and more people to their limits, and unfortunately, beyond. such as in the swiss village lauterbrunnen, where base jumpers from around the world seek out perfect conditions to plunge hundreds of meters into the abyss. for some, it's insanity. for jumpers, it's an incomparable high, even if it ends in death. >> even in the morning when you fetch buns, you can be run over by a car. >> why do so many still do it? we find out more later in the broadcast. but first, to turkey where
people are also risking their lives, but by simply doing their jobs. over 1,000 people are killed every year in workplace accidents in turkey. despite promises to improve working conditions, allegations of negligence and poor safety standards persist. eren eroglu was just 17 when he died. like many of the other victims, eren was from a poor family who, without his income, risk falling into even greater poverty. his father is now determined to seek justice for his son. these people all died on the job -- from burns, suffocation, electrocution, or falls. once a month, surviving family members meet in central istanbul to remember these victims of turkey's lax worker protection laws. one of these pictures is of eren eroglu. he was just 17 when he died. ever since, his father, erdinc, has been trying to bring his son's employer and the relevant authorities to court.
>> those responsible for his death should be punished. that might prevent other deadly workplace accidents from happening. that's what my fight for justice is all about. a court verdict can't bring my son back. >> it was eren's job to place signage high up on this building. it was a dangerous undertaking, especially due to the high-voltage power line that runs alongside it. eren was still an apprentice when he was electrocuted by the 20,000 volt current. he died instantly. his father is filled with grief and bitterness every time he comes here. >> the law states that such power lines must be at least 5 meters away from buildings. here, it was just 2.5 meters.
my son was essentially pulled by the electromagnetic field. if the state doesn't abide by its own laws, then it's largely responsible for his death. >> in turkey, many people work in dangerous conditions, especially in construction. of the more than 9000 workplace accidents reported during the first half of this year, most occurred on building sites. this construction worker has heard about erdinc ergolu's fight for better work and safety standards. >> at our building site, there's no protection for workers. they're supposed to provide us with steel toe boots, but they don't. only when a health and safety inspector comes around to they distribute these items. and if we complain they threaten to throw us out and hire syrian refugees who'll work for cheap. >> turkey's coal mines are also
dangerous places to work. at soma, in the aegean region, 301 workers died when an underground mine caught fire two years ago. in spite of all the promises to improve safety standards, little has been done. at some mines, conditions resemble those common in the 19th century when miners worked with pickaxes, and shovels, and without ceiling supports. this book is filled with such tragic workplace accidents. it's been compiled by berrin demir, a lawyer who practices in istanbul. she's also representing eren ergolu's father in court. >> usually it's poor families who lose their sole breadwinner through the acdent and then fall into even greater poverty. then the company boss or an official comes to them and says,
"a court case like this can take years. we'll offer you a small amount of compensation, if you drop the case." so, in the end, those responsible are rarely convicted. >> the case surrounding eren ergolu's death has been going on for three years now, but erdinc eroglu swears he won't rest until not only his son's former employer, but also the authorities responsible for the wrongly installed power line, have been convicted. >> some days i firmly believe that we'll receive justice for his death. we have the support of so many people, which makes me happy. but when i see the state of this nation, i become dispirited again. >> on average, four people die in work-related accidents each day in turkey.
it's little wonder that people here say "nothing in this country is as cheap as death." >> in the final segment of our series, "eastwards: stories about russia," we go to the capital, moscow. there our correspondent rubs shoulders with the city's elite. since the fall of communism and the end of the soviet union in 1991, a new breed of super-rich has created an ever growing class divide in russia. despite a stagnant economy, the privileged few, like artist nikas safronov, still support president putin and say he has, in fact, lead the country into a golden age.
>> this is no ordinary studio, and he is no ordinary artist. nikas safronov is making an exception and drawing me today . usually, it's men like billionaire and formr politician alexander lebedev, who pose for safronov. what do the two think of russia, of russia's elite, who they both know well, both professionally and personally? >> politicians are like pigeons. when they're down, they feed from your hand. when they're up, they defecate on your head. >> an immature democracy is much more dangerous than the guided democracy we have now. >> putin does things that no one before him dared to do, other than jesus christ, perhaps. i have great respect for putin. >> the myth that the putin regime is taking something away from people is just that, a myth.
>> that is one aspect of business today among other , things. the billionaire is having parts for power plants built in this once dilapidated soviet-era factory. at the moment he is losing money, but he keeps on doing it because he can afford it. and because he believes in russia's strength, particularly the strength of its economy, even if things are rough at the moment. >> our economy will rise when the conditions are finally right. russia's businesses were sidelined because there was no money available for them. there was no money, it was stolen. just like how everything in this plant was stolen. my predecessor, the former owner, is now in jail. >> russia's economy is weak due to low oil prices and sanctions from the west. the government is providing less and less for the people. the gap between rich and poor is growing, but moscow is all aglitter. property prices are rising.
this central district at the patriarch ponds is just as expensive as the priciest districts of london or new york. russia's affluent younger generation lives here, and they like to spend money. nikas safronov has an apartment nearby, an 800 square meter palace. the painter shows me his carefully renovated, neo-gothic, religious-looking historic building, ten minutes' walk from the kremlin. every object a rarity, something the lord of the manor prizes. his city villa is estimated to be worth up to 40 million u.s. dollars. his style? a colorful mix. he calls it "dreamvision". the ruler portraits are the most valuable. safronov is regarded as a court painter and friend of oligarchs, ministers, and company. >> i draw faces that are
interesting. no one wants to know a man who is hoping for a million at the lottery, but everyone wants to know the man who has won the million. putin is like that, a professional, a man, a patriot. someone i find interesting and i respect. >> alexander lebedev, however, is regarded as a putin critic. the multi-millionaire financed the anti-government novaya gazeta, and was himself once a member of the russian parliament. today, lebedev exposes corruption, but he gets cautious when it comes to the russian president personally and his relationship to oligarchs. >> for ethical reasons, i don't want to take the oligarchs' side. they made their money through illegal privatization. i know that better than anyone. my investigations were about putin personally. he hasn't put any money aside. of course he probably has the requisite number of homes, expensive cars, airplanes, and so on, but this doesn't matter much to him. he could just as well sleep in a
tent. >> many people here believe putin gave the russians their former greatness back following the chaos of the 1990's . all of nikas safronov's projects evoke nostalgia for past glory, a glory that the west does not appreciate, according to the painter. >> the west uses russia as a deterrent, as something scary. but this is wrong. russia remains an important part of this world. without russia, there is no germany, no poland, and no europe. the world cannot exist without russia. just as the world cannot exist without bees, even though they sting once in a while. >> businessman alexander lebedev's office building may be located far away from the kremlin, but he, too, believes that russia is on the right path with its current policies. >> a lot of the problems that russia is said to have today are conjured up. the peak of the crisis has been
reached. >> belief in russia's future is something that many members of generation putin have in common. they rarely express criticism. russia is simply a unique country to which unique standards must apply. >> russia is unbeatable. it will be neither communist nor european. russia has always lived according to its own rules, and has gone its own, special way. >> those who have the money can afford their own, golden russia, and hope that it stays that way. >> babi yar is a ravine on the outskirts of the ukrainian capital kiev. it is where the nazis carried out one of their most notorious massacres during world war ii. in september 1941, over 30,000 jews were murdered here in mass executions.
ukrainian rayisa majstrenko is one of the few who survived the atrocity. then, she was only 3-years-old, but now, on the 75th anniversary of the babi yar massacre, she remembers. >> rayisa majstrenko did not walk this road to babi yar for many decades. but after the monument for the murdered children was erected, the dance instructor has come here repeatedly with her pupils. >> my words are always, "this monument could have been for me. but i survived." >> in the early autumn of 1941, nazi germany's army, the wehrmacht, captured kyiv. soon after, some bombs exploded in the center of the city, killing german soldiers. >> special units have been ordered to fight the fires and secure the strategic roads. >> the ss and german and
ukrainian police ordered all the city's jews to assemble on september 29 and to bring only the essentials. a kilometer-long line of people was marched off, including the 3-year-old raissa and her family. >> i saw the grown-ups' legs. i called them white grandpas. they only had underwear on, long-johns and undershirts, stained with blood. all around were the germans and their local helpers. the people on the sidelines were screaming, "they're taking these people to be shot. don't protest or they'll shoot us, too." >> there is no film documentation of the mass executions, but a german soldier took a few photos showing the waiting jews and the clothing of the victims.
it was decades after the atrocity before the soviet union raised a monument to the victims in babi yar. and it's monumental indeed. raissa, too, took a long time before she chose to face her past. >> my grandmother never talked about it. >> she started thinking about the massacre long after she had a family and headed a dance school. and she visited the memorial site. then rayisa wrote choreography to babi yar.
it helped her overcome her trauma, but each performance is still a tightrope walk. >> it's an ambivalent feeling. on the one hand, as a professional, i make sure my pupils do everything right. but if they do everything right, then i'm overcome with emotion. >> today, babi yar ravine is overgrown with vegetation. the place where almost 34,000 people were shot dead in just two days is hardly recognizable. raissa escaped the murders because her ukrainian grandmother pulled her out of the line of the doomed. >> we just ran away, to the cemetery over there. my grandma ran until she could run no more. then she fell to the ground. we huddled between the gravestones all night. >> rayisa survived hiding in cellars until the nazis were defeated. many years ago, she encountered a german tour guide in another
memorial site in poland. >> i looked at him and i could see he had taken the whole burden of the german nation's guilt upon himself. you understand? and that's when i reconciled with germany. before that, of course, i was embittered. >> today, rayisa's husband is buried in the cemetery where she escaped the murderers. and one day, the place where she was rescued will be her final resting place. >> germany and france have long been allies and partners. and of course, neighbors. and like any good neighbor, each has had to help the other at times. in our next report, we head to a border region. on one side, a french city has high youth unemployment. on the other, a german town has an aging population and growing labor shortage. so these neighbors came up with
an idea to provide cross-border traineeeships, but few students signed up. our correspondent tried to find out why. >> the lorraine region bordering southwest germany is a rural ideal, but unemployment here is high, especially among young people. charles brastenhofer therefore has to seek employment elsewhere, in the german state of saarland. young french job-seekers like him are welcome there. every day he makes the 50-kilometer trip across the border to homburg. he's doing an apprenticeship at tire-maker michelin as an electronics technician. it was not an easy decision, because he was worried that his german might not be good enough, but things are now going a lot better. how about all the terminology?
>> i am doing fine. it depends on which term it is. >> charles is something of a first here at the michelin plant. around half the workforce here are french, but none of them had ever applied for an apprenticeship before him. >> we only really started taking trainees from france in 2015. over the previous 45 years, we failed to persuade young french people to do vocational training in germany. >> charles was persuaded, unlike most of his high school friends. >> some of the people in my class were afraid of learning german. maybe the language is a kind of wall, or border. >> that prompted the creation of a cross-border training system. french apprentices get their practical experience in germany while doing their vocational
studies in their mother tongue back home. and vice versa, too. staff with solid french and german are in big demand. >> we have a lot of french customers, and they appreciate being served by people who speak french, who know the french culture and what people really want. >> lisa gossmann works in after-sales. she's among those profiting from the cross-border training project. she gets her work experience here in zweibrucken and the theory in her native france. the project was set up in an agreement signed by the two neighboring states on either side of the border, lorraine and saarland, but results have remained modest. >> one problem we didn't really see coming is actually finding young people to recruit.
>> charles certainly does not need any convincing, having now seen the benefits. he's going to stay on an extra six months in order to earn his german skilled worker's certification. >> it's hard for young people in france to find a job. but once i've completed my dual training, i'll be able to work in germany or france. >> plus, he can stay at home. charles brastenhofer is really a down to earth kind of guy, despite being a cross-border commuter. >> the thought of jumping off of a cliff fills me with dread. but for some people like fabian clerc, it's a way of life. his passion for base jumping is so immense he moved from his home in france to lauterbrunnen in the swiss alps. the village is known for its rocky cliffs, stunning
waterfalls, and as an ideal place for jumps. but he is also aware of the dangers of the extreme sport, which is said to be 50 times riskier than skydiving. >> fabian claire wears a skull on his chest. he knows his passion is hazardous, but he has devoted his life to base jumping. that's why the frenchman has moved to the berner oberland, near bern, switzerland. today fabian is headed for the high ultimate, one of the most challenging jumping-off points. it's an 800-meter drop from this overhanging cliff. base jumping is the world's most dangerous sport; but for fabian, it's the most intense thrill. >> the intoxicating speed, the feeling of having things under control, and, of course, the feeling of flying. >> a leap into the abyss. one's instincts rebel, but for several seconds the dream of flying comes true.
if all goes well, a parachute stops the base jumper's fall. >> that was cool! when conditions are as wonderful as today, it's ideal. >> but things can go wrong even in good weather. it was a beautiful morning recently when uli emanuele, the star of the base jumping scene, greeted his friends on facebook. then he leaped -- to his death. he was considered the best in a wing suit, which makes a longer flight possible. but a moment of inattention sealed his fate. death is a constant presence in the scene, even if the base jumpers who come to fabian's cafe like to play down the risk.
>> sure, it can go wrong. but even in the morning when you fetch buns, you can be run over by a car. >> lauterbrunnen is like a holy site for base jumpers. these adrenaline addicts come from as far away as russia and brazil, making up to 30,000 jumps each year. >> i wouldn't let my sons do this. >> i don't even tell them about it, or they'd want to do it, too. >> exactly. >> the residents of lauterbrunnen have grown used to base jumpers coming here. the farmers rent out their meadows as a landing zone. the kiosk owner says base jumpers are nice customers. but she has also witnessed accidents. >> base jumping can be deadly. with luck, an accident means nothing more than some scrapes or a broken leg. thank god it's rare that someone dies. >> but 48 base jumpers have fallen to their deaths in lauterbrunnen so far. a little monument recalls them.
fabian doesn't like to visit it. >> if a friend of mine has died, then i prefer to think of him when i make a special jump. >> base jumping is like a drug, says fabian. the thrill of danger makes him feel really alive. and so far, he has stayed alive. >> is risking death for the thrill of the rush worth it? let us know what you think by getting in touch on facebook, email or twitter. thank you for watching. goodbye from me and the whole team.